News that Senator Christopher Dodd (D-CT), chairman of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, allegedly received a sweetheart mortgage deal from Countrywide's tan-man CEO Angelo Mozilo has sent the good Senator into outright denial mode. And one that might even be considered humorous, too:
At a tense news conference, [Dodd] flatly denied seeking or receiving any discount from the lender. But his concession that he never inquired or even wondered whether his special status with Countrywide might be related to his position as a senator prompted a barrage of new questions about the terms of his mortgages and about exactly what he knew and when he knew it. "Somebody told you you were in a V.I.P. program," a reporter said, "And you didn’t think you were getting ... " Mr. Dodd cut off the reporter and finished the question himself. "A special deal on a loan?" the senator asked. "No."
There are a ton of old jokes that abound on Capitol Hill around what's known as the "ostrich defense," and this is teeing up one for the record books. Senator gets a great mortgage, and is told he's in a VIP program -- but doesn't think for a minute that being a VIP got him special treatment. Dodd would apparently have us believe, using that sort of logic, that any Las Vegas high-roller making a casino's VIP list has no idea they're getting extra perks, relative to the average Joes that aren't tossing away $50,000 per visit. Or that a frequent flier with platinum status -- read: VIP -- has no idea that their access to exclusive travel clubs and seat upgrades isn't something that's offered to everyone else. In short, we'd have to be dumb enough to believe that being a VIP doesn't really mean being a VIP. This couldn't come at a worse time for the old-line Democrat, who's pushing a foreclosure and housing relief package through the Senate and has harbored Vice Presidenital aspirations, according to various media reports. It's safe to say at this point that his Veep hopes have hit a wall; one can only speculate about the future of the housing bill he's worked diligently with Senate Republicans to craft. See earlier HW news coverage: At Countrywide, a Political Firestorm; Key Democrats Under Fire Note: one of the authors was long CFC when this post was published.